July 24, 2008


Let me praise the humble hot dog (Larry Roberts, 7/24/08, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

There are so many kinds of dogs and so many places to find them. You've got your white hots in Rochester, N.Y.; your New Jersey rippers (deepfried in oil until the dog splits); coneys in Detroit; Chicago dogs in, well, where else; and Italian dogs, resting in a hoagie roll and hidden by fried peppers and onions and potatoes in Newark, N.J.

I know that my family's eating habits have been directed by my desire to try every one possible. My son recently called to tell me about finding in Manhattan a deep-fried hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with red kimchee puree, since he knew that I had chowed down on regular kimchee dogs in Toronto.

Oh, the tales of those dogs! Perhaps the best bonding experience I had with my father was the night I was standing on a stool behind the counter of his Dayton, Ohio, pharmacy, counting pills from a large bottle and putting them into small boxes. I won't tell you how young I was, but it was an early evening and he made a telephone call and moments later here came Pete, and I knew him only as Pete, the Greek owner of Pedro's Chili House next door. He had a plate with the smallest hot dogs I had ever seen, covered with his special soupy chili. It was my first experience with the affinity Ohio Greeks had with chili and an experience I would repeat in Dayton, Cincinnati and Toledo, where Rudy's, a Greek joint, did battle for my hot dog dollars with the legendary Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dogs -- of "M• A• S• H" fame.

Chili on frankfurters was something I had never seen in New York City, where my grandfather and I used to have lunch down the street from Willoughby Camera, where he worked on 32nd Street with a view of Madison Square Garden at one end and Leo's hot dogs at the other. What made Leo's palatable to my grandfather was that they were Hebrew National and definitely kosher. Topped with sauerkraut and bolstered by a cold drink of pineapple juice, they were a great way to visit with the man who got me into the photo business. Alas, like most of my New York, the storefront is now empty.

The next wave of pooch parlors includes Gray's Papaya, Papaya Dog and a burgeoning group of imitators. It's dogs and kraut and/or onion sauce and a choice of very sweet fruit drinks for less than $4. Of course, it used to be less than $3, but they still are a bargain.

...God's gift to the inebriated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 24, 2008 7:54 PM

Although I have not had time to explore widely, I have nevertheless found several excellent hotdoggeries around the country.

For the classic "Chicago" dogs, I like Portillo's and Superdawg. A third favorite, Golda's, alas, is no more.

In LA, I like Tommy's (for chilidogs) and Pink's.

In Seattle, there is the Frankfurter and also Matt's Famous Chilidogs (which also serves them "Chicago style").

Anyone else with favorites please chime in; I am still eager to find new vendors to try.

Posted by: HT at July 24, 2008 9:04 PM

Check out the Holly Eats site, if you haven't already, particularly the hot dog page. If I knew what I was doing I'd put a link here for you.

Only gas and New York City real estate have kept pace with Gray's prices. I think they were a quarter apiece a decade ago. I was there last week and paid $1.25. Still, four dogs and a Pina Colada for six bucks is a delicious bargain meal.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at July 24, 2008 9:31 PM

"Chili" on a hot dog is an abomination before the Lord. Hopefully eternal damnation awaits the purveyors of such a product.

As for Superdawg, I've lived within walking distance of that mecca of encasedmeatdom for more than four glorious years now -- tho sadly that will be ending in a few short weeks.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 24, 2008 11:06 PM

Also, if we're truly talking about God's gift to the inebriated that is in reality the garbage plate at Nick Tahoe's in Rochester, NY. Peace be upon it.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 24, 2008 11:11 PM

David: interesting site. Found a few places I'd been to, now all (sadly) closed.

Jim: I hope that you mean you're moving, and not that Superdawg is closing.

In General: I forgot to mention Top Dog in Berkeley. Fabulous hot dogs. And, oddly enough, run by a conservative. Check out his website and his "properganda" (sic) page for confirmation.

Posted by: HT at July 24, 2008 11:38 PM

Ahh, Cincinnati chili dogs! I sorely miss those delicious things. They also use the miniature dog the author spots in Dayton, and a unique chili of boiled ground beef that includes some cinnamon and chocolate. The leading chain is Skyline, pronounced "skah-LEE-nee" when those with tongue in cheek wish to make it sound like someplace fancy.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 24, 2008 11:45 PM

In Miami, try Dogma...good dogs, prepared about a dozen different ways...they also have great fries...

A style of hot dog I've also discovered here (and in Bogota) is a Colombian hot dog: a regular hot dog with ketchup, mayonaise and pineapple...the pineapple is minced and in juice and almost has the consistency of a sauteed onion...really, really good...Best enjoyed with a rafajo, which is essentially a Colombian shandy (beer...preferably Aguila...mixed with Colombiana, which is a champagne-flavored soda)....

Posted by: Foos at July 25, 2008 10:43 AM

Nah HT. I'm moving. Superdawg remains.

That sounds really good Foos -- er, except for that bit about the ketchup. The 11th commandment is thou shalt not put ketchup on a hot dog.

Posted by: Jim (soon not to be) in Chicago at July 25, 2008 12:13 PM

JibJab, on State Route 422 in Girard, Ohio. They don't cheat you on the fries, either.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at July 25, 2008 2:50 PM
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